UK shares extend gains made on Tuesday in early deals Wednesday, with midcaps rallying to heights not seen since August, and blue-chips risers led by a string of pharma stocks. Wall Street was up overnight, while Asia was mixed, but most of the main European markets follow Lodon's lead higher.
The FTSE 100 index rises around 20 points, or 0.3%, higher to 6,416, while the FTSE 250 index makes a 64 points move up to 17,580.
On the company front, supermarket Morrisons (MRW) braces itself for demotion from the blue-chip FTSE 100 when the index updates its list later today. The group is likely to be shunted south into the FTSE 250 as it suffers from supermarket price wars, the shares around 0.8% off at 150.1p, although the stocm is off from March highs of 208p.
Also under pressure is accountancy software heavyweight Sage (SGE). It heads the Footsie fallers list wit a 5.5% decline to 544.5p as it reports a fall in statutory operating profits due to the impact of currency fluctuations in key markets in Europe, the US and Brazil.
Going the other way is set-top box maker Pace (PIC). Its shares rally 6.5% to 640.3p after getting clearance from the US Department of Justice (DoJ) for its takeover by American pay-TV kit firm Arris (). The US company agreed to acquire Pace for £1.4 billion in cash and shares in April.
Among the bigger movers, Sweett (CSG:AIM) slumps 13% to 18p after posting an interim loss of £0.55 million. The company also admits an offence under UK bribery laws in relation to two Middle East contracts in 2013. This brings closure of the Middle East legacy issues a step closer, allowing the company to progress unencumbered in the future.
Smart metering minnow Cyan (CYAN:AIM) rallies 16% to 0.22p as it strikes a strategic partnership agreement with Newcapec Electronics in China. They will explore new opportunities in next generation smart metering applications for the power, gas and water industries as well as emerging city applications, such as lighting and sensors, both in China and internationally.
Managed data centres specialist Iomart (IOM:AIM) slumps close on 7% to 279.75p as it posts lower profits growth than hoped for in the first half. Its £8.7 million pre-tax profit implies 8% growth in the first six months, but leaves a lot to do in the second period to meet market forecasts pitched at £19.5 million.
Pub group Greene King (GNK) surges 6.9% to 910p on a 46.9% rise in pre-tax profit to £121.3 million in the six months to 18 October, driven by its acquisition of Flaming Grill owner Spirit. Earnings per share are up 15.4% year-on-year to 34.5p, 11% higher than consensus expectations. The dividend per share is 6.3% higher at 8.45p.
Gift bags-to-greetings cards maker International Greetings (IGR:AIM) is marked down 4.5p to 179.5p on profit-taking following a cracking run. Half-time figures show further growth in taxable profits and earnings per share driven by a stellar US performance and there's a welcome reduction in borrowings. Charismatic CEO Paul Fineman also flags excellent responses to new licensed products under the Star Wars, Minions and Coca-Cola brands, though the absence of upgrades also explains the share price fall.
Closing its first deal in France sends pre-natal diagnostic-maker Premaitha Health (NIPT:AIM) 7.7% higher to 20.7p. The Manchester-based company has appointed Adgenix as its distributor in the country, which has already signed a contract to supply the IONA test to laboratory group LaboSud for the next three years.
Web-based property portal Zoopla (ZPLA) gains 2.5% to 244.7p as prelims come in just ahead of consensus. Revenue of £107.6 million in the year to 30 September was 34% higher year-on-year and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) climbed 23% to £48.7 million, slightly ahead of a forecast £107 million and £48 million respectively.
Plastic packaging group Coral Products (CRU:AIM) gains 2.5% to 20.5p after more than doubling its profit before tax to £684,000 from £291,000 in the six months to 31 October as a result of its shift away from media and recycling products to higher margin lines, such as ice cream tubs. The group has started producing specially-designed crates for a national online retailer, which is expected to boost sales by £2 million in the second half.